My husband often says, “Little things done consistently over a long time produce great results.” This statement is true in so many areas of life—but especially in parenting our children.
Repetition is a power tool in learning, and it’s especially true with children. The things we model and teach must be demonstrated to them over and over as they grow and mature. At each level, their understanding is more specific.
But for parents, being consistent can be difficult. Having to tell your children the same thing over and over can feel tedious and even frustrating and exhausting at times. As a result, we can be tempted to skip the reminders or opportunities to show them again and just do it ourselves.
Principles To Keep You More Consistent As A Parent
It’s the little reminders and following through with your children that will make the biggest difference in helping them become mature, responsible young adults when they leave home.
In the years while our kids were still at home, I discovered some techniques that helped me to be more consistent as a parent.
- Begin with the “why”. Give clear explanations of why your child should do a certain thing as well as expecting her to do it. It’s an essential part of training because it establishes the reason first. Hopefully the child will eventually want to do the action on his own. Even with a two year old, a few words of explanation will start the process of understanding. As the child gets older, explanations become more detailed and help the child in building the moral reasoning behind good choices.
Train by rewards. Use rewards charts to train behavior. Setting up a system of rewards in order to train a specific behavior can be a tremendous help to a parent that is constantly having to remind a child. Providing a positive reinforcement for each time the behavior is performed without reminder gives just the motivation a child may need to establish the new habit. You need only give rewards for a time until it becomes so automatic that the reward is no longer necessary. New charts can be used to establish yet another desirable trait.
Use negative consequences as well. Systems should also include consequences for undesirable behaviors. I love using positive motivation to establish desirable behaviors in children. But there are certain times, as a child gets older, when specific behaviors are expected and yet are constantly being forgotten, negative consequences should happen. For example, if a child who definitely knows better keeps parking his bike behind the car, taking his bike away for a few days will be a gentle learning experience. Sometimes a little pain will extinguish the undesirable behavior more quickly.
Keep your eye on the future. What we do in parenting doesn’t always yield immediate gratification. Our children probably won’t be thanking us as we teach and train them. But every bit of instruction, reinforcement, and giving of consequences will add to the total package of who our child will become later in life.
As parents, we can become weary in well doing. The key is to remember our efforts are going to have great results in our children as they become adults. It’s not just telling them or showing them once or a couple times, but consistently teaching and training good habits in them over the long haul.
Question: What helps you as a parent maintain consistency in your child's training? Share your answer in the comments below.